Lake Park's 'Breaking Boundaries' opens doors for female students
With the 2018-19 school year successfully underway, Lake Park High School is proud to partner with the DuPage County Workforce Development Division to host the third installment of the Breaking Boundaries series -- a career exploration initiative targeted to school districts and college-age women interested in learning about in-demand careers that are traditionally considered male-dominated fields.
Working in collaboration with several area manufacturers, engineers and other local industries, Lake Park West Campus will host this free program that is open to all students, families and the public.
The event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the high school auditorium, student cafeteria and Innovation Center, 500 W. Bryn Mawr in Roselle.
This next installment of Breaking Boundaries will feature keynote speaker Kayleen McCabe of the DIY Network show "Rescue Renovation." A contractor and renovation expert, McCabe is an ardent advocate of the value of trade careers and a supporter of women entering nontraditional fields.
Following the keynote presentation, a dynamic and interactive Employer and Career Pathway Showcase will allow participants the opportunity to:
• Meet female physicists, engineers, IT professionals, welders, sheet metal workers, auto mechanics, electricians and business owners working in industries building and designing the future.
• Explore the personal and financial benefits of moving into nontraditional fields, including greater demand and higher pay.
• Get expert advice on career planning and low-to-no-cost training opportunities.
Nontraditional fields for women offer rewarding and fulfilling careers. Modern manufacturing, technology and production jobs have changed dramatically, and there are many misconceptions about what these jobs are and who can do them. Attending this special career exploration series provides women with the facts about traditionally male-dominated fields.
Since the 2015-16 school year, Lake Park students have enjoyed an advantage of early exposure and hands-on experience to engineering and precision machining when the district built a state-of-the-art Innovation Center.
The 3,000-square-foot facility, added to the West Campus footprint, was the collaborative vision of the District 108 board of education and a Technology Advisory Council comprised of more than 25 business professionals and industry leaders.
The Innovation Center was designed to support curricular opportunities and increasing demand for skilled workers in the engineering and precision machining industries.
Momentum began in 2013 when Lake Park became a recognized Project Lead the Way School -- the nation's leading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program -- and secured a $35,000 grant for three years to support implementation.
Lake Park also was named a recipient of a four-year, $50,000 grant from the TMA Education Foundation (Technology and Manufacturing Association), an organization dedicated to supporting technology, manufacturing and engineering educational initiatives.
In 2017, Lake Park was awarded another grant of $40,000 to purchase additional equipment for this emerging program.
Since the building dedication ceremony in September 2015, Lake Park has had the pleasure of hosting numerous school districts, visitors and companies to tour the facilities, including Dan Cronin, chairman of the DuPage County Board; as well as representatives from "1,000 Jobs Campaign" for Chicagoland manufacturing; the Society of Manufacturing Engineers; Fanuc Robotics and more.
Lake Park's board of education understands the benefits of a pathway program like PLTW that provides students with beneficial exposure to technical concepts and hands-on experience with equipment and software.
Dynamic partnerships with industry experts ensure the high school is making decisions in the best interest of preparing students for the future.
Lake Park Lancers are not only graduating workplace- and college-ready, but also have the opportunity to earn a competitive advantage by testing for industry-approved certifications. They are even earning dual credit through the College of DuPage in the Computer Science and Manufacturing programs.
Since the initial year of PLTW, the number of courses offered and enrollment has experienced growth. Students today have the opportunities to select four PLTW courses and two manufacturing courses.
Additionally, the Innovation Center has hosted summer camp opportunities for middle school students including GADgET Girls (Girls Adventuring in Design Engineering & Technology) and LancerTek. These intensive weeklong programs introduce basic engineering principles and course opportunities for future Lake Park students.
The generosity of corporate and individual donors has been impactful and to date totals over $175,000 in equipment and tools. Lake Park aggressively continues to seek local and national grant opportunities that can provide additional resources for growth.
Guests attending Breaking Boundaries can tour Lake Park's Innovation Center on Oct. 3. Registration is open and tickets are free. Register today at https://tinyurl.com/y7a3axxd.
• Lynn Panega is superintendent of Lake Park High School District 108. Her column appears monthly in Neighbor during the school year.